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How to sell your car: a comprehensive guide to the selling process

Selling a car has become complicated in recent years, with more options than ever before to get the best return for your vehicle – but what is the best option for you?

Traditionally there were two simple methods, either trade it in for a shiny new motor at a dealership or choose to list it in the classifieds for sale privately.

There’s now a range of new platforms to advertise your car on, you could simply trade it in for cash or you can still try part exchange. If you choose to sell privately, online car buying sites aim to make it as simple as possible to sell your car, although this can be at a hefty expense if you don’t shop around.

The most important thing is making sure you sell it right, which means getting the best price for it. This starts with preparing your car and showing it off in its best light, to doing the deal and sending it on its way.

 

Preparation is key

While you might think that you can just take a picture of your car in any condition and put it up for sale, there is a lot more to it than that.

The first step is getting the paperwork ready. This includes finding – or obtaining – the V5C registration documents and also any MOT certificates, service history and bills for work that has been carried out – these help to increase the car’s value with solid proof.

It’s also worth noting that the scrapping of tax discs means that road tax no longer transfers to the new owner upon purchase. Instead you can claim the money back for the remaining road tax on the vehicle upon selling it and the owner has to tax the vehicle themselves.

Finally, get the car ready for sale. This can be anything from a quick clean all the way through to detailing and scratch removal, which helps to increase the value of the car. We’ll be doing a further guide in the coming weeks to help you get your car ready for sale, and maximise its value.

It is also worth checking the value of your car using our free online car valuation tool, so you know what it’s worth before selling it. For even more clarification you can look through the classifieds to see what similar cars are advertised for.

But where do I sell it?

There are many places where you can now sell your car, including part-exchanging it, using a manufacturer’s scrappage scheme, selling it privately, via on online auction house or with an online car buying service. Here we run through all of them to see what is best for you.

Part-exchange

Pros:

  • Multiple dealers
  • Money off your next car
  • Sale and purchase in one transaction

Cons:

  • Low valuations with some dealers
  • Haggling
  • Limited to buying specific dealers’ stock

This is probably the most common way of selling your car, by swapping in your old car in place for a new motor. The advantages are that it is quick to do, involves little hassle (other than the negotiation) and you instantly get the money off your next car or it can help towards a deposit on a new car, too.

However, services are available to help keep negotiations down to a minimum by offering the seller a pre-agreed price for their vehicle before they even get to the forecourt.

With this sort of service, you can check out a dealer’s stock on Motors.co.uk and find the car you’d like to buy. Then by filling out a detailed valuation form you’ll receive a pre-agreed price for your current vehicle and you’ll know exactly how much you have to spend when you visit the dealer to make your purchase.

Scrappage schemes

Pros:

  • Money off your next car
  • Purchase a more fuel efficient model
  • Get value for an older models

Cons:

  • Low valuations on newer models
  • Tied to buying selected new models
  • Time restricted deals

Currently many manufacturers are offering significant discounts off your new car when trading in your old one for scrappage. Many car makers, including Ford and Volkswagen, offer discounts for your used car when trading it. Discounts can be as much as £6,000 when buying the most eco-friendly cars – usually electric, although not always. While it doesn’t work for everyone, particularly if your car is newer and more valuable, if you’re selling an old car that isn’t worth a lot, it can be a great way of maximising your car’s value and getting into a shiny new motor.

While schemes vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, it’s usually if you’re car isn’t Euro 5 emissions compliant then you can obtain these scrappage discounts from your old car.

Selling privately

Pros:

  • Set your price
  • Sell from your own home
  • Sell when you are ready

Cons:

  • No guarantees
  • Possible haggling
  • Time-consuming

This is definitely the most time-consuming way of selling your car but also the one that will potentially earn you the most money. You have the bother of having to get it properly prepared for sale, advertising it, potentially dealing with timewasters before having to deal with the paperwork when, and if, the car eventually sells.

While it’s not for all, for those who want to get the most for their car (in most cases), it can be a cost-effective way of selling your car. Just ensure you’re careful and wise when people come around to look at it, though, and never let a person test drive it without proof of insurance or let them drive it without you in the car.

When finalising the sale, make sure you accept full payment for the vehicle before handing over the keys and that the method of payment is genuine. If it’s a cash buyer, double check all the notes are genuine and count the entire amount with them.

Online auctions

Pros:

  • Set your price
  • Sell when you are ready
  • Sell from your desk

Cons:

  • Time consuming
  • No guarantees
  • Fees

Ebay truly dominates the online auction world, but it does mean that there are loads of punters looking at the site for a car to buy. It’s a good way of selling your car if it has any minor issues that dealers would knock a lot of money for. Be aware that you will have to deal with time wasters and Ebay’s auction fees, too.

Online car-buying services

Pros:

  • Fastest way to sell
  • Multiple locations
  • Quick payment

Cons:

  • Low valuations
  • Haggling
  • Unsatisfactory sale price

This is probably the quickest and simplest way to sell your car. You simply enter in your car’s details online and then the site gives you a price for your car.

However, if you’re not happy with the price that is eventually offered, simply do not accept it. Try and use a service that will pre-agree a price with you and then won’t haggle.

Top tips

  1. Be honest and truthful about the condition of your car. Don’t lie about its condition as people will soon see unlisted faults when viewing the car, so you might as well be straight from the offset. By being honest, you’ll secure the best pre-agreed price you can with part-exchange services like Price & Go.
  2. Don’t forget to fill the V5C document – this mainly applies if you’re selling privately. This will mean that you are no longer the registered keeper, too, and the DVLA will be aware of this.
  3. To claim back your un-used tax. As we mentioned earlier, road tax no longer travels from owner-to-owner like it used to. This means you can claim back your road tax via the government’s vehicle tax refund website page once your car is sold.
  4. If selling privately then ensure you have received full payment before releasing a vehicle. With part-exchange and car buying services, payment can take up to 24 hours.
  5. Do not sell a car that finance is still owed on, unless an arrangement has been made with who is buying your car and if they are fully aware that you need to pay the car off with the funds. Also contact your vehicle’s finance company to check any terms and conditions that they may have.
  6. If selling privately, it is worth producing a receipt for whoever is purchasing the car, particularly if they leave a deposit.
James Ash

By

Content Marketing Executive at Motors.co.uk

March 8, 2018

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